Royal High long jump champ is rewarded 56 years after win

It was June 22, 1963 when Royal High School pupil John Robertson claimed gold at the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association’s junior long jump.

Monday, 21st January 2019, 7:35 pm
Updated Monday, 21st January 2019, 7:53 pm
John Robertson won the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association Junior Long Jump on 22 June 1963. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
John Robertson won the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association Junior Long Jump on 22 June 1963. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

The 17-year-old jumped 20ft 10 3/4” (6.36m) to clinch the title but left Westerlands in Glasgow before he could receive his medal.

He’d swapped the sandpit for the Wardie Masonic Hall stage to play guitar with his popular band Saracens.

Many years later he told the story to his friend Pete Clark, who decades later decided to do some digging in an attempt to find John the medal he earned more than half a century ago.

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John never collected his medal, because he was a musician, and he had to leave Westerlands before the medals were presented, in order to return to Edinburgh, where he had a gig. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Pete said: “When he told me the story I thought it was 
typical John. He was good at athletics but his passion was music. It wasn’t a surprise that his priority was to get back to Edinburgh for a gig rather than wait to get a medal from a guy in a blazer.

“He didn’t follow up the possibility of getting a medal. I’m now retired and had a sudden impulse and wanted to get to the bottom of it and see if I could get a medal.

“With the assistance of my school friend Dougie Bruce and sports archivist Jack Davidson I was able to contact Arnold Black, who is the current historian for Scottish Athletics and was able to confirm John’s winning performance.

“He told me they wouldn’t be able to provide me with a medal but was able to send me a certificate from Scottish Athletics with John’s achievement marked on it.”

Mr Black also sent a results page from the issue of Athletics Weekly in 1963 that recorded the results of the Championships that year. Also featured were former athletes including Jim Alder, Fergus Murray and Crawford Fairbrother.

Pete also discovered his long term pal had competed alongside David Shedden who played rugby for the West of Scotland winning 15 Scottish caps.

Almost 56 years later Pete awarded John a certificate to acknowledge his outstanding achievement.

John told the Evening News: “I am amazed. I remember telling Pete the story when we were in the band together.

“I’d given up hope. I remember the day, competing against other people who were part of sport clubs and I’d done well to win. When I got home and told my parents I’d won and they wanted to see my medal. They were not happy when I said I didn’t collect one.”

The pals played together for band Allegretto for around 30 years. John’s passion for music has continued and he still performs regularly at the age of 73. Meanwhile Pete also still plays the keyboard in a band called The Springsteen Sessions.

Pete, a former teacher, added: “John didn’t know anything about it at all.

“It turned out I sent three e-mails to manage to get the certificate. It’s fair to say he was slack jawed.”

John said he was delighted to receive the certificate after all these years which now gives him the chance to be able to “show off to the grandkids”.

He added: “Pete is an active guy and I’m pleased but not entirely surprised that he’s done it.

“I cannot thank him enough for doing this for me. I told him about it years ago and for him to remember and do this is just fantastic.

“It just goes to show what an obliging chap he is. I was so pleased to see the certificate.

“I’m going to frame it and put it up on the wall. 
Hopefully someone will notice it. It’s something to show off to the grandchildren.”